Sunday, January 22, 2012
Coming to Terms with a Bad Review
In the past few weeks, there's been a lot of talk about whether or not writers should engage readers who did NOT enjoy their book. Some have on Goodreads and Twitter. One instance even involved an agent and editor. it wasn't pretty for anyone involved. I have to believe every person who participated walked away wounded somehow.
No one likes to be rejected. It sucks, right? But it's a part of the business and we, as writers, need to understand this.
I'm not saying it's easy. One of my books received a not-so-complimentary review recently. Did it hurt? Sure! Did I jump into the comments and explain where I think she went wrong in her assumptions? Absolutely not.
When I'm faced with a review like that, I put myself in the reader's shoes. I can tell you, quite honestly, that there are many, many, many books I've read that I did not enjoy. These are books my friends loved, books that hit the New York Times bestseller lists, and books that won awards. Just because I don't like them, doesn't mean they're crap. What's the old phrase? One person's junk is another person's treasure.
I think this applies very solidly to writing and reading. This is a business built on subjectivity. And don't tell me there are certain rules writers have to follow, because there aren't. I can recall a very popular book I once read that had no quotation marks - in the entire freaking book. It was so hard to read! I never had any idea whether or not someone was talking or thinking or narrating. In my mind - it was a mess. But, it was well-reviewed and people all over loved it.
That's what we, as writers, have to remember when we see a bad review. There have been times we've hated books too. Maybe we hated them for the subject matter or because the main love interest had the same name as an ex-boyfriend and for that one reason we couldn't connect with the rest of the book. Let's all keep that in mind when a bad review crosses our Google alerts.